NEW DELHI: The failure of the government to get a Bill, which ensures six months of maternity leave to mothers in the private sector, passed in the Lok Sabha has led to dismay among many expecting parents who have expressed their anguish to Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi. The Maternity Benefits (Amendment) Bill, which was passed in the Rajya Sabha last week, failed to make it to the Lok Sabha due to paucity of time.
Maneka said: “The Bill did not come into the Lok Sabha. So, now we will have to wait for the Winter Session”.
Many would-be parents, who were expecting to accrue the benefit, sent e-mails to Maneka enquiring about the status of the legislation.
Her inbox was flooded with over 200 e-mails from curious and expectant parents a day after the Rajya Sabha revised the maternity leave from 12 weeks to 26 weeks, sources said.
More e-mails were from women at various stages of pregnancy, expecting fathers and adoptive mothers. Almost all were inquiring to find out if they will be benefitted from the passage of the Bill in the Upper House last week. A mother wrote to Maneka, “I am eight months pregnant and I need to avail maternity leave from 5th September, 2016. When I asked my company for maternity leave benefit, the company management replied that the bill has not been passed. I was also told that even if it is passed, it will be implemented only from March 2017.”
Another e-mail reads, “As my wife is about to deliver a baby, I am curious to know when will this Bill be implemented.”
Another mother of two daughters expressed her gratitude on behalf of “future mothers”. She wrote, “I may not be able to avail the benefits, but I am happy for future mothers.”
The amended bill allows adoptive and surrogate mothers to avail 12 weeks’ maternity leave. However, an adoptive mother wrote to the minister saying that it was not sufficient.
Apart from extending maternity leave, the amendment bill, passed by the Rajya Sabha, also makes it mandatory for an establishment with more than 50 workers to provide for a creche.